Every June 8, the world commemorates the sustainable management and protection of its oceans. This is an area in which Chile has played a leading role in recent years.
Oceans cover three-quarters of the Earth’s surface. 3% of the total amount of water that exists is fresh water; the rest is in the sea. Its importance is such that today the livelihoods of more than 3 billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity, and if we look at its influence on the environment, it absorbs 30% of the Co2 emitted by mankind.
To ensure its protection, Chile has adopted measures such as local public policies and international alliances that protect the territory.
World leader in the protection of marine areas
With ten parks and five marine reserves, Chile is currently the country with the largest marine protected area in the region. This translates into 6,435 km of coastline and nearly 1,500,000 km2 of marine protected area. This achievement has earned us the recognition of the international community, in part because we are one of the signatory states of the 2030 Agenda that has shown the greatest compliance in this area.
Marine Protected Areas are a key tool in the fight against climate change, and Chile is one of the 15 countries in the world with the largest protected area. Today, these protection areas cover 42.3% of our exclusive economic zone; more than half of them correspond to Marine Parks (without fishing) and 41.8% to Multipurpose Coastal Marine Protected Areas.
Of the 361,132,000 km² of sea that currently cover the surface of the planet, only 1% is part of Chile’s exclusive economic zone. This reality validates the idea that ocean protection must be a global initiative. Today, our country maintains a series of international alliances that pursue the protection of our oceans, such as the International Alliance to Combat Ocean Acidification, or the United Nation’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, where signatory states have committed to preserving at least 10% of coastal and marine areas before 2020. As of 2022, Chile has quadrupled that figure.
Our country continues to promote international projects that give greater protection to the world’s oceans, and it was recently announced that Chile and Canada would lead a proposal to create protected marine corridors throughout the Pacific Ocean, areas where the protection of marine ecosystems can be carried out without depending on the limits of each nation, as more countries join the initiative.
Public policies at the service of the oceans
Legislation is another way in which Chile contributes to protecting oceans. In recent years, various initiatives aimed at limiting the human impact on oceans have come into force, such as the ban on trawling on seamounts in 2015, or the law banning single-use plastics in 2021, an initiative engendered by civil society that seeks to prevent this waste from reaching the sea.
During a new commemoration of World Environment Day, the enactment of the Framework Law on Climate Change was announced, an initiative that aims to make the country carbon neutral and climate resilient by 2050 at the latest. The announcement adds to efforts to protect the oceans, which today absorb 30% of Co2 atmospheric emissions, and which have seen a 26% increase in acidity since the industrial revolution.
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